No April Fools: Real-Life 'Invisibility Suit' Created

By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer
No April Fools: Real-Life 'Invisibility Suit' Created
Invisible Morphsuit in action.

Harry Potter's invisibility cloak may be the stuff of fiction, but a real costume that claims to make its wearer invisible was released today (April 1).

Produced by the costume company Morphsuits and designed by former NASA scientist Mark Rober, the "Hollow Man Morphsuit" uses sophisticated image projection and "light-bending" technology to render its wearer invisible to the naked eye, even while the person is moving, the company said.

"We were inspired by blockbuster movies and sci-fi enthusiasts that forever fantasized about the possibility of making someone invisible," Gregor Lawson, co-founder of Morphsuits, said in a statement. "We have created a range of costumes that inspire unrivalled shock and awe, and the Hollow Man Morphsuit is somewhat of a holy grail in that regard." [Photos: Best Science-Themed Halloween Costumes]

Rober caught Morphsuit's attention when he created a Halloween outfit that sported two iPads linked by video chat, which appeared to create a hole through the wearer. This costume was a major inspiration for the invisibility morphsuit.

Rober was part of a team of scientists and engineers who developed the patent-pending "MirrorMorph" technology to make the costume's wearer invisible. The scientists designed more than 200 concept suits using different technologies in an effort to find one that achieves complete invisibility.

The final suit consists of spandex material embedded with thousands of micro-LEDs and mirrors and dozens of small cameras perched at just the right angle to project an image "through" the wearer, making people blend in with their surroundings. The cameras capture the images, and the LEDs act like pixels on a computer screen to display them.

A person wearing the invisibility suit will be completely invisible — even while moving — unless the cameras are obscured, the company said in a statement. The suits are available for pre-order from the company's website for roughly $1,660 (999.99 British pounds).

Previously, scientists developed cloaking devices that reroute microwaves to make objects invisible at those wavelengths of light, but these cloaked objects remain visible to humans.

Morphsuits manufactures spandex suits that cover the body from head to toe, but allow the wearer to breathe, see and drink through them. The company now makes 200 different suit designs, including Halloween outfits with smartphones that display beating hearts or open flesh wounds filled with maggots.

Maybe Harry Potter would have liked to have one of those costumes, too.

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